A Reflection on Reflectors

I am constantly reminded by my loved ones to – Be Safe! whenever I head out for a run. Let’s be honest, people on the road are scary. I’ve seen people reading, doing their nails, putting on makeup, texting, and other distracting activities. Pretty much doing anything but focusing on the road.

Winter is especially dangerous because it gets darker earlier and if runners want to run outside, they are forced to do so when visibility isn’t at its optimum. But even when visibility is ideal, runners have to maintain a constant awareness of their surroundings.

Staying alert is only part of the safety puzzle however. Here are a few precautions you can take to increase your safety and minimize the possibility of accidents happening:

1. Wear bright and reflective clothing.

2. Don’t wear headphones, or, if you need music, make sure it’s low enough to hear approaching vehicles.

3. Run against traffic.

4. Try to run in areas with wide shoulders and be aware of blind turns and poor road visibility for drivers.

5. Wear LED lights on a vest, in your hand, or on your head to signify to drivers that you are approaching.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a negative event to bring the importance of safety to the forefront of a runner’s mind. For me that event came a couple months ago. I was running my normal route down a neighborhood street that has great, wide shoulders designated specifically for runners, bikers, and walkers. At one point I take a turn onto a sidewalk that crosses in front of a stop sign. I checked over my left shoulder to make sure no cars were about to turn right, then looked right to make sure their was no one approaching the stop sign. I begin to cross the street toward the sidewalk. Halfway across the street, a car flies through the stop sign and I barely miss getting sideswiped.

My heart is beating out of chest. The woman who was driving actually stops her car on the side of the road and gets out to make sure I wasn’t crushed to death or something. I keep running. I was furious and didn’t want to offer any false platitudes on how I was fine or risk venting in anger. I’m fine, I leave, she returns to her car. In retrospect I should have said something kindly rebuking to increase at least one driver’s awareness of runners – and the laws of stopping at stop signs. But it did serve to make me realize how it’s better to err on the side of safety and triple check for fast and reckless drivers.

For more tips on running safety check out this recent article in the January 2010 issue of Runner’s World  – Collision Course. There are a lot of similar stories from readers in the comments selection below the article that are interesting and helpful.

    • Tori
    • January 12th, 2010

    So you will wear blinking LED lights at all times if I get them?

    Wanna know what’s even mooooore safe? A treadmill!

    • Where’s the challenge in that?? And LED lights are always a great idea 🙂

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